Staghorn Fern

Caring for a Staghorn Fern

The staghorn fern, or platycerium, is a gorgeous genus of fern. This genus contains about 18 species of fern, all of which have very similar characteristics. As you can guess, these plants’ resemblance to stag or elk’s antlers (also known as horns) is what gives this genus its unique name. Although they come in a variety of shades of green, they all have a pod-shaped portion at the base that looks similar to a lily pad. From that sprouts the stalks of the fern that resembles the antlers of a stag.

Growing Environment

The staghorn fern seems to be present around all four corners of the earth. They do best in environments that resemble that of a rainforest, however they are somewhat adaptable to other climate types. The best rule to go by when it comes to growing environment is to make sure that you can offer the fern a bright and warm location—preferably high up. Traditionally this genus of fern will attach itself to trees and simply grow out of the trunk. They reproduce from spores and therefore do not require any soil and very little water in order to grow.

Where to Obtain a Staghorn Fern

You can usually find staghorn ferns in your local garden nursery. If the garden center does not have them in stock, you can usually have them order the plant for you from a catalogue. Alternatively you can look around at online garden supply stores. There are thousands of garden websites out there that offer a large variety of staghorn ferns for you to choose from. After selecting the fern you want, you simply go through the checkout and wait for you plant to arrive in the mail. The idea of receiving plants in the mail may not seem very bright, however the proper measures should have been taken to ensure that your plant arrives safely and ready to transplant into its new home.

Planting Your Fern

We say “planting”, however that really is not the most accurate word for what you will do with your fern. Before we get started with the details, know that you will need a board or large piece of bark as well as some sturdy wire. This sounds more like the supplies one might need for a construction project, but I assure you that they will simulate the best environment for your fern. To start out, you will need to wrap the roots of the fern with sphagnum moss. This is a very fluffy moss that sort of resembles a fine sponge. It is very good at retaining water and will help to ensure that your fern has enough water without drowning the roots. After the roots have been wrapped well with sphagnum moss, prepare to attach the fern to the board or piece of bark. The size of the wood you use really depends on how large the plant is at the time you “plant” it and whether you intend to add more to the existing piece of wood as it grows larger. To save yourself the hassle of having to extend the wood later on, you might as well start off with a larger piece of wood.

Place the fern on top of the wood, ensuring that the roots come into contact with the board. Use the wire to secure the base of the fern to the wood. Eventually the roots of the fern will attach themselves to the wood naturally which will lessen the need for wire. After the fern is secured to the wood you can find a nice place on the wall or ceiling from which to hang it. Whatever area you choose, remember that it needs to get a good amount of sunlight but that it must be filtered. Filtered light is bright sunlight which is not directly shining on the plant. A sheer curtain over a window provides filtered light. The area must also not drop below 75 degrees Fahrenheit, as staghorn ferns do best in warmer temperatures.

After your fern has been hung from the floor or ceiling your care responsibilities become minimal. The plant will suffer if it is over-watered, therefore you only need to water it whenever the moss surrounding the roots is no longer moist. The application of a dry fertilizer every few months will also encourage good growth in this species of fern.